Xeta Group

Top 10 Reasons to Use a Carrier Services Agent

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Top 10 Reasons to Use a Carrier Services Agent
A Complex Landscape
For many business and IT leaders, dealing with telecom carriers has long been a challenge. But today, with telecom so interconnected with IT solution design, building the right telecom infrastructure for specific business needs is even more challenging. Ensuring that a telecom environment supports larger IT goals and investments takes expertise and time—two areas that create major hurdles for many organizations. And these IT-related difficulties are being piled on top of traditional telecom carrier pains that still exist today. For instance, business leaders may find themselves spending hours trying to get a response or quote from a direct carrier representative, or digging through mounds of paperwork to determine if their monthly bills are accurate. An experienced independent carrier services agent can help solve many of these pain points, by assisting with solution procurement and design; carrier interactions; billing verification and more. What follows are the 10 most compelling reasons to leverage a carrier services agent.or businesses.
Top 10 Reasons to Use a Carrier Agent
Carrier Services Agent
1. No Carrier Rep Turnover
Sales is known as a high turnover profession, and the telecom industry is no exception. Many times your carrier representative may change more than once in a calendar year, meaning you have to repeatedly educate a new contact about your account. By using an independent carrier services agent, however, you can be sure that you keep the same point of contact for a long period of time. That means that when a problem arises, you can dial the same phone number you have been calling for years and the person on the other end is familiar with your business; carrier account details; and telecom environment.
2. A Single Point of Contact
Regardless of whether you maintain a single- or multi-carrier environment, with an agent you still have a single point of contact for almost everything telecom-related. During the pricing and evaluation process for new carriers, it is typical to request at least three bids and have several appointments with carriers. The number of appointments you might schedule could easily surpass a dozen or more before you can make an educated purchasing decision. With an experienced, qualified independent agent, you can save hours of valuable time by simply scheduling a single appointment to determine the best course of action for your organization.
3. Someone Who Understands Your Company, How You Make Decisions, and Why
An independent carrier services agent acts as an extension of your company once he or she understands your business needs and preferences. Your agent will take the time to get to know your organization's business needs and goals, how you make decisions and what you're looking for from a carrier solution. Perhaps most importantly, your agent will understand how telecom supports your current IT environment and what changes you may need to make for projects on your roadmap. For instance, if you are migrating applications to the cloud, a telecom agent can help you avoid network and bandwidth challenges, one of the top five Software-as-a-Service roadblocks according to a recent survey.

Top 5 SaaS Roadblocks:

  1. Network limits
  2. Solid security
  3. Integration inefficiencies
  4. Dealing with data
  5. Starting from scratch
4. The Whole Truth
When you use the services of an experienced, independent carrier services agent, you tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience of someone who has been in the field for many years. Your agent will typically have experience dealing with multiple carriers in your market, including those without a direct sales force, and can tell you how they actually perform. They will truthfully and accurately answer important questions like:

  • Which carrier has the most reliable network?
  • Which has billing problems?
  • Which may be having financial difficulties or other problems that may impact service?
  • Which can make the desired install date?
  • When you use an independent agent, you don't have to listen to each carrier downplay weaknesses and deficiencies. You get to hear the truth.
5. Carrier Agnosticism
When you deal with sales representatives from individual carriers, you are only going to be pitched on that carrier's offerings. But in many cases, that carrier may not have the technology you need, or may only be able to offer you part of a solution. Getting stuck with a carrier that can't meet your present and future requirements can be crippling to any operation.

"If an organization does not consider a carrier's capabilities when designing an IT solution, it may miss out on some features and functionality that could have a positive impact on design," explains Pierre Thyssen, Xeta Group's CTO. "For instance, some carriers enable failover to a different network, which improves disaster recovery and increases reliability over those that do not."

So before you begin designing a solution, you need somebody who will honestly and reliably answer questions like:

  • Can the carrier port all of your numbers or support virtual numbers?
  • Will you be able to failover SIP to a public IP address or other disaster recovery connection?
  • What enterprise level SIP services/features does the carrier offer?
  • Are there benefits with SIP and our wireless users?
6. Agents are Invested in Your Long-term Success
Unfortunately, once a carrier sales representative gets you to sign a deal, there is no motivation, despite the direct representative's best intentions, for them to speak to you again. On the flip side, because independent carrier services agents are commission based, earning a small percentage of the monthly telecom bills, their entire motivation is to build a book of business of happy customers that don't have to repeatedly find a new representative. In so doing, the agent has every motivation to assist you in addressing and solving any service issues that you may ever have.
7. Monthly Savings and Billing
Clarity There's a reason that MarketsandMarkets predicts that the telecom billing and revenue management market will be worth $11.78 Billion by 2019; one of the biggest pain points for organizations is that they are often paying for telecom services they don't need and may not even know about. Independent telecom agents regularly uncover significant "fluff" on bills during the auditing process. One of the reasons this happens is that direct carrier representatives have a quota to make, and they will often focus on presenting you with options that are good for them, but not necessarily best for your business. Additionally, over time your billing structure can get complex as you make changes to your telecom infrastructure, and you may simply not be able to stay on top of it.

Alternatively, top agents, almost without exception, do not carry quotas with any carriers. Because they do not carry quotas, you will not find them pushing you towards a solution that doesn't feel right just to meet their numbers. They are also accessible to thoroughly audit your billing rate structure, both during an initial assessment and as time progresses.

$11.78 Billion Estimated telecom billing and revenue management market worth by 2019
8. Knowledge of Extra Incentives and Promotions
Because carrier services agents work with multiple carriers, they have visibility into numerous incentives and special promotions from all these various vendors. At any given time, these offers can be applied to any solutions purchases and can have a significant impact on your bottom line. In contrast, when you work with a direct carrier agent, you only have access to deals and promotions from that specific carrier.
9. Equal Pricing
The exact same standard pricing is used in both the agent and direct sales channels. Agents do not charge extra, despite all of the industry knowledge and experience they offer. Additionally, for large projects, special pricing is available to both agent and direct channels at the same rates. It's a model that helps the customer and agent win, and ensures that all potential clients are treated equally.
10. Understanding of Next-Generation Technology
Independent telecom agents will typically be better versed than direct representatives in technologies like MPLS, VoIP, cloud solutions, call center applications, Unified Communications and SIP, since they need to understand multiple carriers' offerings and have attended their trainings. No carrier can be the master of all technologies and master of all niches.

So it follows that it is nearly impossible for a direct representative to have the same breadth and width of exposure to the IT initiatives on your roadmap. Moving successfully to newer technologies can save a company money and increase productivity—it may in fact be the difference between growth and stagnation. Put simply, independent agents are in a better position to help you make decisions about the telecom solutions that support your IT needs.

"Telecom figures heavily into so many areas of IT today," says Thyssen. "Telecom and technological innovation continue to intersect to the point where today, much of what is happening in IT is inextricably linked with carrier and telecom services."
Leveraging a True Partner
Leveraging a True Partner When you are weighing using a carrier services agent against a direct carrier representative, perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that instead of simply "dealing with" your team, the carrier services agent becomes part of your team. This agent is personally invested in seeing you succeed, so he or she will take the time to understand your business needs, rather than simply trying to close deals. The agent can help you cut costs; enable you to save time by taking over many of your carrier interactions; and set you up for IT success by ensuring your telecom environment support all of your technology initiatives.
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